Life & Faith

Arabic calligraphy reading: In the name of God, Most Merciful, Most Gracious.
(Arabic calligraphy reading: BismilLahi Ar-Rahman, Ar-Raheem 'In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.')

Roses in a bicycle's basket.

... I'm having trouble naming this section, but it's pretty much going to consist of (hopefully not too rambling!) realizations I've had about life as a Muslimah. Might give you some perspective on how I see the world and how my faith helps gives me comfort and purpose, if nothing else!

My Translations of Arabic Islamic Quotes and Supplications

This isn't as focused as other topics on this page, I just love to translate things that are little known in English, for further benefit!

"Some of creation are like some trees"—hikam (wisdom) poetry by Abul-'Atahiya


Some of creation are like some trees
Beautifully shaped, but stingy in fruit
Sifting souls is like sifting stones
Of them are precious and of them are rocks
And how many are blind in sight, seeing in heart!
And how many a heart is blind of insight
And how many a prisoner is free in heart,
And how many a free man is burned by ennui [dissatisfaction, emptiness]
And not every illuminated face encircling [you],
In the darkness of night, is called a moon
Not every bearded man is an adviser,
And not all who shave it have apostatized,
Was it not said once from the highest station,
"The girl was correct and 'Umar was mistaken"
And how can a lute or 'oud be mastered
If your hands never strum a chord
A drop of water, repeatedly strikes
On stone, until it splits stone
And how many a shooting star in the lofty sky,
In the blink of an eye, you see it snuffed out
Trash rises to the surface of the sea,
In its pit, settle pearls and treasures
Some promises are like some clouds
Strong in thunder, stingy in rain
The best of words is fewest in letters
Plentiful in fruits, eloquent in impact
For a sword, its point aims for blood
And for a word, its point aims for the moon
And had not the soil overcome the seed,
Never would, from within it, the eminent foliage rise
And had not the winds shaken the flowers,
Never would their prefume have dispersed
—and the flowers would have [still] died.

I began translating this many years ago, while still in medical school, but as I kept finding this poem in different orders online... traditional Arabic poetry is not concerned with consistency throughout the entire poem, perhaps because most people were illiterate and narrated these as oral tradition, but instead, only with consistency in regards to a single bayt, so each bayt can stand alone... still, this one has a lot of internal harmony and structure that feels to me intentional, so I tried to reorder it based on the most complete version I could find online. I am not a poet and Arabic is a very rich language that can convey a lot of meaning in very few words, so in translation, it can end up a bit wordy or flowery sounding...
My favourite part is the final bayt, although the one about false friends who are the first to surround you in times of difficulty (feigning sympathy, but they're actually delighting in your suffering, keeping you around to feel better about themselves, etc.) is painfully familiar... my actual favourite part is the final bayt and the beautiful image it paints. We, like the flowers, are all fated to die, ephemeral by nature, but the difficulties we face can help bring out the best of us, we could learn our true strength, and share wisdom, which otherwise, we would not have... even if we were kept sheltered forever, it would not change our end, so better to live a life fully (even with some suffering and pain), than not to live at all.

قد يوقعك الله بذنب كنتَ تستبعده لتكون أرحم بالمتلبسين به، وقد يعسر الله عليك بابًا من العلم ليكون في تكرارك وبحثك تثبيتًا له؛ سترى الدنيا بعين أخرى حين تعلم أننا أحيانًا نبتعد لنقترب، ونتعب لنستريح، اللهم ارزقنا بصيرة ترى أنوار الرحمة في كهوف ما نكره.

God could cause you to fall into a sin you used to think you could never commit, so that you will be more merciful to those accused of it. He could make difficult for you a chapter of knowledge, so in your research and repetition of it, you become more capable of it. You will look upon this lesser world with differently when you learn that at times, we go astray to draw near, toil so that we may be more at ease. O Allah, grant us clarity of inner vision, so that we may see the lights of mercy in the caves of that which we hate.

سَيجعل ﷲ بعد عسر يسرًا ، عندما تعصف ريح الألم فذكرها بنسمات الجبر وانظُر كم مرة كان قلبك قاحلًا فأصابه وابل الفرح هذا العسر سينجلي وستعلم أن اللطيف قد دبر لك ما لم تدركه لضعفك وفقرك

“God will make after harship, ease. When the winds of pain storm you, remember the breeze of mending/healing, and look to how many times your heart was rendered barren, only for a rain of joy to descend upon it. This hardship will clear away and you will know that the Most Subtle had planned for you what you could not have achieved (alone) due to your weakness and poverty.”

سَيجعل ﷲ بعد عسر يسرًا ، عندما تعصف ريح الألم فذكرها بنسمات الجبر وانظُر كم مرة كان قلبك قاحلًا فأصابه وابل الفرح هذا العسر سينجلي وستعلم أن اللطيف قد دبر لك ما لم تدركه لضعفك وفقرك

“God will make after harship, ease. When the winds of pain storm you, remember the breeze of mending/healing, and look to how many times your heart was rendered barren, only for a rain of joy to descend upon it. This hardship will clear away and you will know that the Most Subtle had planned for you what you could not have achieved (alone) due to your weakness and poverty.”

Assorted du'a from the below graphics found on this twitter... I chose to translate some of them:

"O Allah, make easy the coming years of my life, bless me in them, and send to me all goodness in them. O Allah, grant all who suffer of being lost, that awakening which gudes to to the beautiful path, towards the life most suitable for the purity of their souls, and that which You love, o Allah, ameen."

"O God, save me from the evil of those who lie in wait for me, those who take advantage of me, and those who stab me in the back. Busy those who intend evil for me by concerning them with their own affairs. I entrust my life to Your care, You who never lose anything in Your care."

"O God, if you grant me victory over my enemies, do not allow me to mock them, My God, do not allow me to confuse gratitude with laziness, nor dignity with arrogance, nor humility with degradation."
"Ibn AlQayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said: A believing slave does not persist in suffering for the sake of worship, becoming accustomed to it, loving it, sacrificing for it, except that God, Most Glorious is He, sends upon him angels that forcefully compel him towards obedience, compelling him to do them, annoying him [even] when he sleeps or sits [so he does not abandon] it.

And he does not persist in becoming accustomed to disobedience, loving it, and sacrificing for it, except that God sends upon him devils that would forcefully compel him towards disobedience.

The first: strengthened the army of obedience with his support, so they became of his greatest helpers. As for this [latter] one: strengthened the army of disobedience with his support, so they became helpers of one another against him."

Why (Seemingly) Good Things Happen to Bad People

I notice a lot of people who aren’t religious tend to see tragedies and unpunished evil in life as being “proof” of either God not existing or being cruel, so I tried to explain how I see it as a Muslim, in an extremely simplified way.
(This is an odd entry I've made in the form of a comic, originally intended to be viewed on twitter. Thus, I'll include it here, a transcription will soon be added, in sha Allah [God willing]!)

Too Little Time?

People tend to talk negatively of how time seems to drag when you're working as opposed to having fun, but also talk wistfully of how long days seemed to be when they're younger! I think, aside from the scientific explanation of your perception of time differing based on how long you've lived (why one year feels like an eternity when you're little [when you're five, a year is huge, equal to a fifth of your whole life!] but years race by as an adult), it's also a sign of more blessing/barakah in your time when you use it on something meaningful, like helping other people (it's always way less time than it feels like, when you check the time). I and even my little brother definitely notice that when we read Quran, the rest of the day lengthens in perception and more than easily encompasses what we aim to do with time to spare! I also find a similar benefit, along with a greater sense of peace and contentment, with reading my daily adhkar.
I guess a kid's time is naturally blessed because all their play is beneficial and learning in their early years ( how to move, how to interact with the world, etc.), so if we read more, we won't have to rush even with a lot of work to do! (And make the weekends feel longer too.)

Nature, Beauty, Social and Animal Welfare

‪He is the One who created everything, this natural world which runs on a finely-tuned balance, we disrupt with sins of greed and unkindness to one another, hoarding wealth, and disturbing the natural order of things without thinking of the consequences, putting ourselves before future generations. Or, rather, certain people with power do.

(Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness]). [30:41]

The earth gives enough for all to prosper, but greedy humans often fail to share. This is why zakat/obligatory charity is imposed, even though it's a small percentge of one's wealth to be given once a year, it purifies money by feeding the less fortunate... and voluntary charity helps expiate sins and is rewarded! There are also some sins which must be expiated by feeding a specific number of poor people (if available), etc.

Promises of rewards and fear of punishment can move those who are otherwise too cold-hearted to care about making sure fellow living creatures have enough...

Even when all deeds come to an end with a person's death, there are three sources of continuous good deeds even while one rests in their grave: a pious child who continues to supplicate for their parents' forgiveness, knowledge shared that continues to benefit people, and continuous charity. The story of the woman who entered Hell for trapping a cat and starving it, as well as the prostitute who was forgiven and entered Heaven for drawing water from a well to a thirsty dog are famous.

Even in planting a tree, there is a reward for every human, animnal, or bird that eats from it or takes shelter under its shade!

Even on the Day of Judgment, the horrors of which will make every human forget everyone dear to him and be concerned wholly with their own destiny, fearful of the horrors of that day, we are still commanded to take care of this Earth. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him said), "If the Resurrection were established upon one of you while he has a sapling in his hand, and it is possible to plant it, then he should plant it."

‪Life might be harsh because of other people, but the natural world is beautiful and varied and fascinating.‬
‪We’re supposed to be more intelligent, but we’re told humans were designed as the best of creation (see 95:4-6, Quran), in form, but can become the lowest of the low by their bad deeds—I guess that’s why greed and cruelty we were allowed gave birth to industries that rely on convincing us of inherent “ugliness” of our natural forms. The Quran tells us that Shaytan (Satan) promises "And surely I will lead them astray, and surely I will arouse desires in them, and surely I will command them and they will cut the cattle' ears, and surely I will command them and they will change Allah's creation." [4:119, Quran] ‬
‪The natural world is not ideal by human morals, but few doubt the beauty of lives in accordance with the nature God created it with. Nature is comforting, calming, a sorely needed reminder of what is truly needed for life.‬

He sends down the rain, it is a blessed time to make supplications hands raised, side-to-side, palms up, there is no barrier or screen between you and God, ask in your own words.

‪Animals are stressed when they are up against something frightening and dangerous. Humans stress themselves over ideas, past memories, future fears.‬
‪A simple, natural, and undoubting faith like the animals would be excellent! ‪Become as trusting and dependant as the birds, who go out in the morning, hungry, not knowing how they will find their meal, but return home after filling their bellies. This doesn't mean to leave work, as the Prophet advised the man who thought relying on God meant not tying his camel (knowing camels often stray!), "Trust in God, but tie your camel." We work towards the ends we seek, but leave the unknown and uncertain to God instead of worrying about it.


‪He gave us such free will that He delays punishment so we could turn back to Him or, if we fail until the end, only go to Hell if it’s truly deserved because we did not make use of all our many chances and ignored every warning sent our way.

He answers the supplication of the oppressed against their oppressor, even if they do not believe in Islam, even if it is delayed by some time or a better answer is planned (injustice and oppression is the darkness of the Day of Judgment—the root word for oppression [dhulm] is which also means darkness).
God forbid oppression even for Himself. He will give more success and abundance to a disbelieving, but just ruler, than He would to a believing ruler who commits the sins of injustice and oppression.
A Prophet slept once and was bitten by an ant, then decided to burn the whole colony. God rebuked him for killing an entire nation of creatures that glorify Him, saying, "Was it not one ant?"
The story of the woman who entered Hellfire for trapping and starving a cat is famous, as is the story of a prostitute whose sim was forgiven and entered Heaven because of the kindness of her heart when she gave water to a thirsty dog when she (also thirsty and exhausted) found a well in the desert.

Go back home!